Facebook Update Exposes User Contact Info, Security Expert Says

A tweak to Facebook's permissions and privacy settings means third-party developers can now access your home address and phone number, warned security firm Sophos.

Facebook announced Friday night a minor change of settings that expands the data people share with external websites and applications. Facebookers now expressly grant third-party apps like Farmville and sites the right to see your address and phone number via the standard permissions dialogue -- although the social network maintained that the new changes would not provide access to the data of a user’s friends.

A top analyst with Sophos questioned the social network’s move in a blog post, noting that the update posed a major privacy issue by making it easier for rogue applications to gain access to information.

“You have to ask yourself,” Sophos senior technology consultant Graham Cluey said in the post, “is Facebook putting the safety of its 500+ million users as a top priority with this move?”

Facebook counters that the move is intend to maximize convenience for its hundreds of millions of users, who increasingly want notifications of activity on the social network while on the go.

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"We want to make it easy for people to take the information they've entered into Facebook with them across the web. This new permission gives people the ability to control and share their mobile phone number and address with the websites and apps they want to use," a Facebook spokesman told FoxNews.com.

Cluey nevertheless fears that the potential for harm outweighs the potential for good.

"Now, shady app developers will find it easier than ever before to gather even more personal information from users," he wrote. Cluey recommends that all users remove their home address and phone number from their Facebook profiles immediately.